Bill Christie

William Walker Christie

M.B.E., B.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc., F.R.S.E., F.A.O.C.S.

Bill Christie was formerly Head of the Chemistry Department at SCRI and on 'retirement' became a consultant to the MRS Lipid Unit to which he still contributes. Much of his scientific time is now devoted to his website – the LipidWeb (, but earlier he founded the AOCS Lipid Library website (

His main research interests involved structural analysis of lipids, especially

  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry of fatty acids
  • Chromatographic analysis of lipids
  • Stereospecific analysis of lipids

He was awarded an MBE in the 2000 New Year's Honours list and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Further information

Dr Christie is a graduate of the Chemistry Department of the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where he also obtained his Ph.D., under the supervision of Professor F.D. Gunstone, who was also a consultant to the Lipid Analysis Unit.

Dr Christie is probably best known for his work on developing novel analytical methodology for lipids and his books are the standard texts on the subject. For example:

  • He has used picolinyl esters and dimethyloxazoline derivatives extensively for the structural analysis of fatty acids, and has more than 2000 mass spectra of fatty acids on file.
  • Silver ion chromatography was first adapted to high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) in his laboratory, and it was applied to analysis of fatty acids (including trans isomers) and molecular species of triacylglycerols.
  • He was among the first to use evaporative-light scattering detectors for lipid analysis, and have developed methodology for separations of all the simple and complex lipids in a single chromatographic run. This detector is also used in many other applications including reversed-phase HPLC of fatty acid derivatives, triacylglycerols, and diacylglycerols (derivatized) prepared from glyco- and phospholipids.
  • Novel methodology involving chiral chromatography was developed for stereospecific analysis of triacyl-sn-glycerols.
  • He has characterized a large number of novel fatty acids in seed oils of plant species, that may have nutritional or industrial value, and which certainly pose important biosynthetic questionsThe structures of the cyclic fatty acids formed in heated frying oils have been fully elucidated.

Dr Christie received the Herbert J. Dutton Award of the AOCS in 1995 ‘in recognition of his contribution to analytical methodology in relation to oils, fats and lipids’. Subsequently, he received the Alton E. Bailey Award of the AOCS in 2004, before in 2010 the Supelco/Nicholas Pelick Research Award. He was the founder of the Oily Press Ltd.

Selected Publications

A full publication list contains details of nearly 400 items. The first major item is a book, "Lipid Analysis" (Pergamon Press), published first in 1973, before it was extensively rewritten with further editions published in 1982, 2003 and 2010. More than 8000 copies have been sold and it is the standard work in its field. A further book on "High-Performance Liquid Chromatography and Lipids" was published in 1987 and a companion volume on "Gas Chromatography and Lipids" appeared in 1989. In addition, he has published 35 major review articles, 175 refereed papers and many other articles. A few books only are listed.

  • Lipid Analysis - fourth edition. Christie, W.W. and and X. Han. The Oily Press (now Elsevier) (2010).
  • Trans Fatty Acids in Human Nutrition. Sébédio, J.L. and Christie, W.W. (editors), The Oily Press, Dundee, 320 pages (1998).
  • Advances in Lipid Methodology — One to Four. Christie, W.W. (editor) The Oily Press, Ayr/Dundee. (1992 to 1997).
  • Gas Chromatography and Lipids: a Practical Guide. Christie, W.W. The Oily Press, Ayr., 307 pages, 1014 references (1989).
  • High-Performance Liquid Chromatography and Lipids: a Practical Guide. Christie, W.W. Pergamon Books, Oxford. 272 pages, 916 references (1987).